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Just be sure and say hello if you ever encounter [[my friend|43]].
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“There are differences, of course. I know there have to be. And yet…”\n\nShe took another gulp of wine, looking askance at me.\n\n“And yet they all come out [[looking the same to me now|15g]].”\n
Remember, his name is <<print $Name>>.\n<<timedgoto "44" 5s>>
[[PATRICK|0]]\nby michael lutz\n<<set $Name = either("Patrick", "Adam", "Jacob", "William", "Alex", "Matthew", "Michael", "John", "Daniel", "Anthony", "Joshua", "Joseph", "Samuel", "Ryan", "Lucas", "Caleb", "Brandon", "Zachary", "Alexander", "Justin", "David", "Travis", "Luke", "Owen", "Tyler", "Ben", "Cameron", "Henry", "Connor", "Austin", "Jack", "Evan", "Nicholas", "Jonathan", "Isaac", "Charles", "Thomas", "Kevin", "Andrew", "Elijah", "Jason")>>
A drunken Japanese man in a crowded New York bar shook my hand and profusely thanked me <<replace "for all my help;">>for all my help; \n\na Girl Scout at a folding table outside the mall asked me if I would like to buy more Thin Mints <<replace "(I prefer Samoas);">>(I prefer Samoas); \n\na middle-aged woman on a street corner asked me <<replace "how my mother was doing;">>how my mother was doing; \n\na man about my own age cursed loudly on a bustling Kansas fairground, smiled, and said he didn’t think he’d ever see another Delta Phi [[brother out here|10]].<<endreplace>><<endreplace>><<endreplace>>
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background images are all derviations of preexisting photos, under creative commons. links to originals below.\n\n[[smiling man|http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Headshot_of_Paul_Dietzel_II.jpg]]\n[[party 1|https://www.flickr.com/photos/kdemerly/2856708987/]]\n[[grocery store|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Coles_South_City_aisle.jpg]]\n[[street|streetpage]]\n[[bar|https://www.flickr.com/photos/davetron5000/420682218/]]\n[[party 2|https:[email protected]/5670541062/]]\n[[party conversation|https://www.flickr.com/photos/thinklondonevents/3726609958/]]\n[[doubles|https://www.flickr.com/photos/lexnger/2712668806/]]
i took this one myself. it's somewhere in seattle, but i don't remember where, specifically. anyway if you really want this for some reason, hit me up.\n\n<<back>>
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“[[<<print $Name>>!|25]]” he shouted.
“[[<<print $Name>>|26]], you damn fool!”
I felt the old anxiety seize my heart, the tight unfamiliarity of wearing someone else’s clothes. I opened my mouth to tell the man he was mistaken, but he was already talking over me: “<<print $Name>>, come on. I thought you said you wouldn’t make it this year!” He was pulling me through the crowd now, shouting [[exuberantly and obviously drunk|27]].
“<<print $Name>>, I need to introduce you to this new client -- potential client, anyway -- I want you to tell him that story of yours. You know the one. This fellow, he said [[he loves a good story|28]].”
Even worse: might anyone who would believe me commit the consummate betrayal of one day mistaking him for me, or me for him? [[It seemed a real possibility|21]].
Honestly! I’ve had several romantic partners, but I inevitably end things whenever I begin to suspect that there is only a matter of time before they unintentionally [[whisper his name in my ear|22]].
At any rate, one day, not terribly long ago, my company sent me to a conference in Colorado.\n\nIt was not a function that I had a particular stake in, but our normal man had to duck out at the last minute and I was deemed [[a suitable replacement|23]].
As I stood there during the opening night soiree, sipping cheap wine and wondering how I would convince anyone of my company’s assets with my limited skills, when a man in a very expensive suit suddenly burst from the crowd and grabbed me by the [[sleeve of my jacket|24]].
by michael lutz \n[[twitter|http://twitter.com/WarrenIsDead]] [[website|http://correlatedcontents.com]]\n\nmacros and some CSS adapted from [[leon arnott|http://www.glorioustrainwrecks.com/blog/584]]\n\nspecial thanks to Dan, [[Spam|https://twitter.com/spammm/status/448259320229027841]], and Meaghan for beta-reading\n\n[[photo credits|images]]
The stranger brought me before another man, older and even better dressed, with an outdated style of heavy moustache perched over his lip. “This is <<print $Name>>,” the first stranger said, patting my shoulder familiarly. “Let me tell you, sir, he -- well, <<print $Name>>’s [[a hell of a storyteller|29]].”
The older man looked at me expectantly, his mustache curling into [[the suggestion of a smile|30]].
These are the details I am sure are part of his story – for I tell his [[as much as my own these days|41]].
And which did I just tell you? [[Unimportant|42]].
I was in the local grocery store (whether there with my mother or on an errand for myself, I don’t remember) and had just turned the corner into an aisle lined with soup cans. Directly ahead of me was an old woman, pushing along a shopping cart with slow, measured squeaks of [[a single bad wheel|2]].
I was first made aware of [[<<print $Name>>|1]] at age eight or nine.
[[“<<print $Name>>!”|4]]
As I came into view she caught sight of me and, instantaneously, her wrinkled face cracked open in a shocked, [[ecstatic smile|3]].
I felt a momentary panic, a sudden anxiety that locked me firmly in place, and this must have shown on my features for suddenly the old woman’s smile faltered and her arms fell slowly to her waist, then [[hung limply at her sides|6]].
“<<print $Name>>!” she cried, throwing her arms up in the air and taking a single quick step around the cart, as if moving to [[embrace me|5]].
<<timedreplace 5s>>“I’m sorry,” she repeated. “I thought you were someone else.”<<becomes>>That was the first time.\n\n<<timedinsert 3s>>Many more [[followed|8]].<<endtimedinsert>><<endtimedreplace>>\n
“I -- I’m sorry,” she said, shaking her head at me and maneuvering so that once again her cart was [[between us|7]].
<<display "Encounter1">>
Patrick
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I have a companion, and always have.\n\nHe gets olives on his pizza, though he prefers mushrooms; Girl Scouts try to sell him Samoas. How many times has he felt that moment of expectant anxiety just before a lover whispers his name – //his name// – in his ear?\n\nI imagine [[quite a few|40]].\n
Once, at an event not unlike the one we’re currently attending, I happened to run into a doctor who specialized in matters of [[pregnancy and childbirth|15b]].
I begged her pardon but evidently in error; she frowned at me and replied that she had been [[talking to herself|15d]].
Laughing because I was no longer alone.\n\nIn fact, [[I never was|39]].
“Babies,” she said, “new ones.” She explained her position as an OB/GYN, before continuing: “I [[can’t tell them apart anymore|15f]].”
“They all look the same, you know,” she grumbled over the rim of a wineglass. The comment seemed only half-directed at me but as you might imagine it caught my interest. I [[pressed further|15e]].
“Smashed faces,” she said. “Shriveled skin and [[screaming|15h]].”
I counted once, for the amusement of some friends when I was in college -- I still //could// count how many times it had happened, then -- and remembered a total of some [[two-dozen incidents|9]].
“Imagine, all over the world, those shrieking, toothless mouths,” she said. “Crumpled, useless hands draped across the wheel of every car you pass on the highway. Eyes that can [[never really focus on you|15j]].”
“I think of them sometimes. Out there, away from me, long since I saw them. And yet I can’t imagine them as anything else apart from what I saw them as, what they were [[at first|15i]].”
Well, she went on like that and didn’t even notice as I slipped away, whatever insight I thought she might offer me forgotten as I procured a refresher on my own drink.\n\nI thought to tell you this because it goes to show you that in these situations you'll meet [[all sorts of people, not all of them as amusing as I|16]].\n
<<replace "Once, while traveling for my first job, I had a layover in Seattle; a woman ahead of me in the coffee shop asked me what I planned to do for the meeting on Monday.">><<display "Encounter4">><<endreplace>>
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No one ever believed me, of course, or assumed I was [[exaggerating|12]].
My situation was once a good story to tell at parties – as you can no doubt tell, it works well as an icebreaker, something that made me [[seem charming and witty|11]].
Don’t deny it, I can [[see your smirk|14]].
You probably think the same thing, don’t you? They chuckled, [[you chuckle|13]].
<<replace "At age sixteen I accompanied a group of school friends to a pizza parlor, where the waiter, without even speaking to me, appeared with //the usual// -- though I had never been to the establishment before, and my supposed usual had mushrooms, the one topping I cannot stand.">><<display "Encounter2">><<endreplace>>\n
Might I [[digress for a moment|15a]], or would you rather I [[continue the story|16]]?
I have not, for various obvious reasons, had a life of extreme hardship.\n\nBut I realized I did not, in the fullest sense of the word, have any friends, anyone who was [[truly close to me|18]].
Anyway, right, where were we?\n\nIn time it began to grate, the recurrent [[disbelief|17]] in my situation.
It became apparent my life was threaded with a serious and terrible peculiarity, one that kept me from ever feeling close to anyone, because [[not a single person believed me honestly|20]].
As uncanny as it seems, you see, no acquaintance of mine had ever been //present// during one of my moments of [[mistaken identity|19]].
“<<print $Name>>? [[Well?|32]]”
I blinked at the strangers.\n<<timedgoto "31" 3s>>
The story was, as usual, a rousing success. Once I finished I’d attracted a few more listeners from the surrounding crowd, and all of them, plus my original two auditors were in fits of laughter.\n\n[[I was laughing, too|38]].
I told them my story, as I had always told it, except -- this time -- when strangers shouted out to me in public, they did not call me <<print $Name>>, but by [[my own name|37]].
I took a gulp of wine, and I [[told them|36]].
Realization dawned and, almost automatically, I gave him my broadest grin, chuckling. Oh yes, of course.\n\n[[That story|35]].
A nervous laugh. “<<print $Name>>, you know, your story. //Your story//. The one you //always// tell – the one about everyone confusing you for…” He gave me [[an expectant look|34]].
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It was later in the evening and she, an older woman, was well into her cups, obviously agitated about something. For this reason I had no intention of engaging her as I sidled past to reach the bar, but I stopped when she seemed to [[address me personally|15c]].
“Story,” I managed to say, without any specific thought [[behind the word|33]].
michael lutz